Friday, May 20, 2011

Bandwagon Commentators, Critical Commentators and the Philippine National 'debate'

In the Philippine National "Debate", I've observed two general types of participants which I've classified under two labels -- (1) bandwagon commentators and (2) critical commentators. Perhaps it might be a worthwhile exercise to classify noted participants in the Philippine National "debate" into these two labeled buckets. Labeling after all is a natural inclination of the human mind, and perhaps when we use a cognitive device that the average person can relate to, we can get a better understanding of what separates the men from the boys in the world of "debate."

Bandwagon Commentators (BC's) are easily spotted. They make liberal use of the buzzwords and jargon of the day, quote lots of words ending in "ism", label people using words ending in "ist", and make repetitive use of slogans and taglines.

The discourse of true Critical Commentators (CC's), on the other hand, is marked by a complete aversion to jargon and textbook-ese. They are able to explain the most complex concepts using everyday words. In fact they are so comfortable with this rare skill that they exhibit unparalleled patience, consistency, and level-headedness when explaining their thoughts even to the uninformed (at least those who have a genuine interest in enlightening or educating themselves). Indeed, people like Stephen Hawking, Douglas Hofstadter and the late Carl Sagan who possessed vast intellects and whose breadth of knowledge and insight extends far beyond the grasp of at least 99 percent of humanity made names for themselves explaining stuff to ordinary people.

And that is what separates the men (the CC's) from the little boys (the BC's). There is smart (merely knowing) and there is really smart (knowing and being able to disseminate this knowledge). The biggest scholastic tragedy -- and waste of education expenditure -- is most evident in highly-educated people whose minds lie imprisoned by their own education.

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